Update: Florida Shooter Was a Felon, Previously Killed Son in “Hunting Accident”

donspiritweb

Yesterday we caught wind of a Florida mass shooting in which a family was murdered. Details were scarce at the time, but with the morning comes additional information. It appears that a total eight people are dead: six children, the mother, and the grandfather by suicide. The suspected murderer is Don Spirit, a person who was previously convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm when he “accidentally” killed his son in a “hunting accident” years prior . . .

What will be interesting as the case progresses is to see how Don obtained the firearm he used to kill his family. The local constabulary isn’t releasing any details about the gun or how he obtained it, but with the recent push from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and other civilian disarmament groups on the idea of “ghost guns” and straw purchasers and background checks, you can bet your bottom dollar that this case will be used as proof that gun laws need to be tightened.

The thing that those gun control groups will gloss over is the fact that Spirit was a felon — he was already banned from possessing guns, and any method he used to obtain them was by definition illegal. No additional laws are required to make anything he did even more illegal, whether it was obtaining a gun or gunning down his family. He just didn’t care, in the same way most criminals don’t care if they break the law. Nevertheless, the usual gun controller suspects will be hot to trot on new laws to make it even more illegal-er.

This shooting takes place a little over a month out from the midterm elections and days after President Obama issued a statement calling for stricter gun control. The tragedy might seem like an obvious opportunity for politicians to use it as an excuse to call for more gun control legislation. The opposite is true, though.

The midterm elections are a day of reckoning for politicians’ anti-gun rhetoric, and all of them seem to be avoiding the subject altogether (unless they’re burnishing their pro-gun bona fides). Gun control isn’t popular by any stretch of the imagination, and advocating more of it has lost more politicians their jobs this year than secured them reelection. So while gun control groups (Bloomberg et. al) may try to force this issue with ads and commercials, politicians won’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. It will make for an interesting dynamic in the run-up to election day, and depending on how hard Bloomberg presses the issue, it might actually cost some Democrats their seats. Again.

comments

  1. avatar brentondadams says:

    The system works!

  2. avatar DonS says:

    “It sounds like in total eight people are dead: six kids, the mother, and the father by suicide”

    * Six kids
    * The kids’ mother
    * The kids’ grandfather (the mother’s father)

    The quoted text suggests that the murderer was the father of the children.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      The murderer was the killer of the father, who was his son-in-law, or something. Good grief. Why were none of the victims armed?

      1. Well since his son was 9 years old when he was killed…I don’t think he fathered any children.

      2. avatar DonS says:

        “The murderer was the killer of the father, who was his son-in-law, or something”

        On 14 Nov 2001, Don Spirit “accidentally” killed his 8-year-old son Kyle Spirit. At the time, Don Spirit was a convicted felon. He served 3 years for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2003-01-24/news/0301230612_1_son-kyle-spirit-christine

        On 18 Sep 2014, Don Spirit allegedly killed six of his grandchildren, their mother (his daughter) Sarah Spirit, and himself.

        I’ve seen no mention of the father of the six children.

    2. I suspect he was the father of at least one of them.

  3. avatar OakRiver says:

    But if we make it tougher for people who are legally able to obtain guns then surely it will stop people who are already not eligible from purchase guns.

    1. avatar Puyallup Devil_Doc says:

      @Oak River Since he was already prohibited from buying/owning guns, one of a few things had to have happened.
      1. He bought a stolen firearm from someone that knew the gun was stolen, and knew the buyer was aware the transaction was illegal. Both parties were breaking the law, and no background check would have been performed. Making it more illegal wouldn’t have stopped the transaction, and making it somehow “tougher” for the original buyer to purchase the gun wouldn’t change anything either.
      2. The firearm was purchased by a friend or family member and given/sold to him. Since the man had already been prosecuted for his original felony, and prosecuted later for being a felon in possession, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the person who gave/sold him the gun wasn’t aware that he was prohibited from possessing it. This is already illegal, and making it more illegal is doubtful to have stopped it. Even if the original buyer did undergo a NICS background check, they were knowingly making a straw purchase, so how did a background check prevent anything?
      3. He stole the gun. This seems implausible, but again, how would universal background checks have prevented him from obtaining a firearm? He would already have been committing numerous felonies, why would he have cared about one more?
      4. He purchased the gun legally through a licensed firearm dealer. Sounds impossible, unless the NICS system failed to catch that he was a felon, or he lied on the paperwork. Either he was lying on the form, which is a felony, or he was a felon that knowingly committed a felony in purchasing a gun, which is a felony. Making it super-duper illegal would have stopped this?
      5. He found an unlicensed seller that sold him a gun without a background check. This might be the case, but why is it the sellers responsibility to ensure that what he sells isn’t misused, or that the buyer wasn’t prohibited from purchasing it? Can you think of another commercial product where this level of scrutiny is required? Cars kill far more people than guns, yet there is no law requiring a car seller to ensure that the buyer isn’t prohibited from driving one before handing the keys over. The better question to ask, is why doesn’t the government make NICS check available to the public for free? If I want to sell a gun, why can’t I just call an 800 number and check if the buyer is prohibited? Background checks aren’t about anything other than record keeping, which the government is prohibited from doing anyway. Federal firearm dealers are required to maintain records of their sales, and are required to allow the ATF to inspect those records at will. So, the government doesn’t keep registration lists, but dealers are required to. Universal background checks means universal registration, period.

      So, now that i’ve answered your question, can you please answer mine? How would universal background checks have prevented this man from buying a gun?

      1. avatar Hobbez says:

        Your points are all very true, however, I think he was likely being sarcastic.

      2. avatar wtflol says:

        holy hell dude, do you not understand sarcasm?

        Breathe. Relax.

      3. avatar Richard in WA says:

        Missed sarcasm aside, this reply is actually a great example of how to handle the Antis who are trying to expand BCGs or otherwise restrict rights. Pointing out that he is repeated felonized by a myriad of unenforceable existing laws is a good thing.

        1. avatar OakRiver says:

          I agree, that this is a great way to deal with any gun control argument – sensibly, logically, and politely.

      4. avatar Charles says:

        If they really wanted universal background checks, then they would open them up to the public now. I would use it. I won’t sell a gun to anyone I don’t know really well unless they have a carry license. My form of background check. The anti’s never go this route because they don’t really want to take guns away from criminals, they want to take them from the law abiding by making the process as onerous as possible. They also want a backdoor registration system. Otherwise, as I say they would open the system up and the 198% of Americans that want universal background checks would just start using it, now, no delay because they want it. I know I would use it, and I count for at least two or three of those Americans.

      5. avatar Mark N. says:

        He probably bought it from a private seller at a gun show. No background check required, and he was the only one breaking the law.

    2. avatar neiowa says:

      Read for comprehension OakRiver’s post. It is not that subtle snark.

      1. avatar whatever says:

        This is a clear case of Poe’s Law in action. 🙂

        ” The better question to ask, is why doesn’t the government make NICS check available to the public for free? If I want to sell a gun, why can’t I just call an 800 number and check if the buyer is prohibited?”

        This should have been a thing a long time ago.

        1. avatar Joe Wright says:

          Best idea I’ve seen in a long time. If I sell a gun to anyone, they will need a pistol purchase permit, (Iowa) ?? Or, a carry permit. In Iowa, we can carry open, cancelled almost any weapon you want .

    3. avatar OakRiver says:

      In the interests of clarity my post was intended as a sarcastic send up of the typical gun control position that is advocated after such events as this.
      My apologies if this was not clear, perhaps it is proof that some things are simply beyond parody.

      1. avatar LongPurple says:

        The sincere, but outrageous stupidity of the commentary from the more radical of the gungrabbers, is often indistinguishable from what is intended as blatant sarcasm.
        I’ve run into that mistaking of my intent quite often. I add 😉 { ; + – + ) } to clarify I’m being sarcastic.

        1. avatar OakRiver says:

          In hindsight perhaps I should have ended my comment with [/sarc]

      2. avatar Puyallup Devil_Doc says:

        Totally missed that your post was sarcastic. Add that to not recognizing your username, and it looks like I spent 30 minutes preaching to the choir. 🙂

    4. avatar Chip in Florida says:

      Well, those laws didn’t work. Lets add some more. Lets make it super-duper illegal to shoot people. Lets make it so super-duper illegal that no one in the future would ever even consider shooting someone because it is so super-duper illegal……..

      1. avatar ShaunL. says:

        Then, later, we can make it even more super duper illegal-er.

        It does sound from time to time that we’re sliding down a slippery slope towards a “grassy knoll” but history shows this knoll we’re heading toward to be less of a conspiracy and more of a potential reality.

        Sad times for “common sense”.

  4. avatar Dave357 says:

    What a strange system. One day you read about a convicted felon getting 15 years for possessing several shotgun shells and no actual gun, and here you have a convicted felon that killed his son, and how many years did he get?

    1. He was not a felon when he killed his son. He got three years for that and that was when he became a felon. You people need to read more news outside of TTAG.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Incorrect. When he killed his son with a firearm, he was not charged in his son’s death, he was charged as a felon in possession of a firearm. So he was convicted of some unnamed felony BEFORE he killed his son.

        And back at ya about the “more news”.

      2. avatar Chip Bennett says:

        He was not a felon when he killed his son. He got three years for that and that was when he became a felon. You people need to read more news outside of TTAG.

        Maybe you should take your own advice:
        http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2003-01-24/news/0301230612_1_son-kyle-spirit-christine

        It is illegal for felons to own firearms in Florida.

        Spirit was convicted in 1998 for felony possession of marijuana and never underwent procedures to restore his right to own a firearm, a charging affidavit states.

        1. Missed that one…thanks. At least I knew about the “hunting accident”. I read several news stories and none mentioned the marijuana.

      3. avatar DonS says:

        “He was not a felon when he killed his son”

        Yes, he was.

        From http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2003-01-24/news/0301230612_1_son-kyle-spirit-christine :
        A man who accidentally shot his son to death in a hunting accident in 2001 will spend three years in prison for a felony firearms violation, according to a plea agreement reached Thursday with prosecutors.

        Don Charles Spirit pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon

        Spirit was convicted in 1998 for felony possession of marijuana and never underwent procedures to restore his right to own a firearm

  5. avatar Joe R. says:

    Guns don’t kill people. People who think background checks/police/fire/local-city-state-federal government or the UN can protect them at the individual level moment to moment die of shame.

  6. avatar former water walker says:

    He was already a convicted felon. I don’t know how he got a weapon but no laws will help. Despite what our oakriver troll just wrote. Besides that it’s Florida.

    1. avatar OakRiver says:

      You may have missed the sarcasm in my post. I’m not exactly new here, and you can check my previous comments which are all very much in favour of the Second Amendment.

      1. avatar Tmmy! says:

        Ah, I was about to comment on your previous post hoping it was sarcasm. Thanks for clarifying.

      2. avatar former water walker says:

        Sorry I missed the sarcasm. No I DON’T remember you. Usually sarcasm has an element of “humour” in it’s “favour”. 🙂

        1. avatar OakRiver says:

          My defense in this instance is that some things are clearly beyond parody 😀

          Guess I’ll just have to post a little more often and get know for something positive, and not poorly received sarcasm 😀 It isn’t always so easy when we have many people here who typically post my sentiments before I do.

      3. avatar LarryinTX says:

        I thought the sarc was pretty obvious, but some here are using English is a second language, obviously, and are certainly welcome.

      4. avatar Yellow Devil says:

        Sarcasm on the internet is a mirage of an oasis in the middle of a desert.

        Use /sarcasm to clarify next time.

    2. Like I said over at Bearing Arms when they made the felony and gun ownership the focus of the story, he could have killed them all with a garden tool. The motive should always be the focus of homicide…not the weapon. Why did a young woman with children from multiple fathers live with this monster? Why did he act out with violence against her and all her children? Was he the father of some of them? Was she afraid to leave him in fear of her life? Did she threaten to tell the dark secret if he did not take them all in? In the wake of the Red Jacket scandal, these should be obvious questions. Nobody commits mass murder because…GUN! Stop acting like it.

  7. avatar Chip Bennett says:

    For completeness, from the chain of linked articles:

    Spirit was convicted in 1998 for felony possession of marijuana and never underwent procedures to restore his right to own a firearm, a charging affidavit states.

    And:

    Don Charles Spirit pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon just as his trial was set to begin, in exchange for the minimum sentence. He could have faced a prison term of three to 15 years if convicted by a jury.

    1. avatar Another Robert says:

      Thanks for providing some righteous info.

  8. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    “… you can bet your bottom dollar that this case will be used as proof that gun laws need to be reformed.”

    Simple counter-argument:
    Suppose no one had ever invented firearms. It is incredibly easy for a healthy man in his 50s, a trusted family member who has free access to the family home, to execute family members with a machete, ax, club, or even poison. Thus 100% elimination of firearms would not have saved this family. However, eliminating firearms is absolutely guaranteed to do two things:
    (1) Insure that weak victims succumb to stronger attackers.
    (2) Insult the human dignity of good people who would have never used a firearm to attack someone.

  9. avatar Taylor TX says:

    I agree with some of the comments above about how confusing some of the writing was, in relation to the victims etc.

    Man this is some sad awful shit, reminds me of the family that was murdered by a deranged ex husband/boyfriend a few weeks ago who drove cross country to get to them. But you dont NEED protection, better to watch your children meet a grisly end?

    Thats the part they dont include about encouraging people to not own guns, what happens when you really need one and dont have it.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

  10. When guns are outlawed…

  11. I hope and I pray that Dem’s lose many seats. Wouldn’t a 60 plus motivated senate for guns be nice? They could actually overturn an Obama veto!

  12. avatar Accur81 says:

    This is one of the main points of disagreement I have with RF – I do not believe that violent felons should have legal access to firearms. They don’t, of course, and I wouldn’t fight to change that. Obviously black market and grey markets exist, and it is not possible to eliminate access to weapons in a free society. It isn’t even possible to eliminate access to weapons in prison. I believe that past performance is an excellent indicator of future performance. In a word: recidivism. A man who murders once may very well murder again.

    Since our legal system is not capable of incarcerating all of the dangerous criminals that desperately need constant adult supervision behind bars, then keeping laws which ban criminals from firearm ownership makes sense. Of course, laws are only words on paper at the end of the day. And we don’t need background checks. A felon on parole is already searchable.

    When you rape, murder, or sexually assault a child, I’m just fine with your 2nd and 4th Amendment rights being gone until such point as you can un-rape, un-murder, or un-sexually assault your victims. Clearly that is not possible. It is also not possible to “pay” for such crimes by being incarcerated at taxpayer expense. That’s about $28-$38 grand per year. Of course the proper application of the death penalty without a lengthy and expensive appeals process prevents recidivism. A firing squad is the most appropriate punishment that I can think of for Nidal Hassan or James Holmes.

    It is up to responsible adult to secure their own defense, and they should have access to the same firearms used by law enforcement. I can’t imagine having to defend against a psychotic family member, but I will focus on the tragedy rather than the tool. The family would not be any more or less dead if an axe, chainsaw, or a fire were used.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      I go a bit further — no legal guns for violent offenders irrespective of whether they were felons or misdemeanants. Restoration of gun rights for nonviolent felons and misdemeanants should be permitted after service of sentence, the expiration of an appropriate period of probation afterwards and full restitution paid by the violator to his or her victims.

      1. avatar Joe Wright says:

        Ralph, that is pretty much how it works.

    2. avatar Punknil says:

      The problems with revoking the gun rights of felons,
      1.The violent crime recidivism rate is not 100%. The law does take guns from some small number of people that will only ever use it to defend themselves. May as well ban guns from everyone, since some previously law abiding people commit crimes, and past statistics are an excellent indicator of future behavior in a population.
      2. Laws against firearms possession for felons do not actually prevent recidivist felons from getting a gun for their next crime. How is it useful to charge this felon’s corpse with the crime of being a felon in possession? It’s like a law making it illegal to possess drugs, sure you can keep charging people with crimes, but it is so hard to enforce that it fails to have a properly chilling or deterrent effect on the criminal minded and breeds more contempt for the law.

  13. avatar george from fort worth says:

    re-read this one several times. are we not overlooking the crack in the dam…..the fact that a convicted criminal had possession of a firearm make the case for gun grabbing…completely. ALL THE LAWS FAIL TO PREVENT THESE TRAGEDIES – ONLY COMPLETE REMOVAL OF FIREARMS FROM THE POPULATION WILL END THESE SENSELESS EVENTS.

    arguing that bad guys can always find a gun is a weak argument. the counter is simply, “we can’t hunt down guns in the crime-ridden neighborhoods, so we just have to accept the danger that some bad people will come into our crime-free lives. but, we can eliminate all the guns that are available to the non-criminals, preventing any possibility of unfair/preventable gun deaths and injuries in the general population.”

    we need a good, slam-dunk, theory-destroying rejoinder. else we are left with, “well, that’s just the price we pay for maintaining our rights…stuff happens.”

    cheers,

    1. avatar Chip Bennett says:

      we need a good, slam-dunk, theory-destroying rejoinder. else we are left with, “well, that’s just the price we pay for maintaining our rights…stuff happens.”

      People abusing their freedom is the price paid in order to live in a free society. It is impossible to eliminate criminal activity without completely eradicating freedom itself.

      1. avatar george from fort worth says:

        agree !!

        but how do we defeat the argument that if guns are removed from the law-biding, it shuts down a source for accidental death/injury? the attraction is that restricting firearms to bad places, means if you stay away from bad places you will not personally be harmed, plus society is rid of a highly-fatal means accident. if everyone has a gun (or 30million do), there are unlimited possibilities (and yes, probabilities….using gun-grabber logic) that innocent deaths will continue. accidental gun death to other forms of death in the country puts one in the position of having to defend the idea that guns are as necessary to everyday life as cars, bicycles, motorcycles, plastic bags, bathtubs….we need all this stuff, no one needs a gun.

        cheers,

        1. avatar Chip Bennett says:

          but how do we defeat the argument that if guns are removed from the law-biding, it shuts down a source for accidental death/injury?

          Accidental firearm death/injury is a non-issue, with rates at all-time lows, even as firearm ownership soars (presumably, to new/first-time – and therefore, inexperienced – firearm owners).

          …the attraction is that restricting firearms to bad places, means if you stay away from bad places you will not personally be harmed, plus society is rid of a highly-fatal means accident.

          One, I don’t believe in the Safari Principle. Law-abiding citizens should be free to go wherever they have a lawful right to be. “Bad places” should be cleaned up by removing the bad people, not by restricting access for the law-abiding.

          Two, firearms do not represent a “highly fatal means [of] accident”.

          …if everyone has a gun (or 30million do), there are unlimited possibilities (and yes, probabilities….using gun-grabber logic) that innocent deaths will continue. accidental gun death to other forms of death in the country…

          Again, firearm ownership is at all-time highs, and accidental firearm deaths are at all-time lows.

          …puts one in the position of having to defend the idea that guns are as necessary to everyday life as cars, bicycles, motorcycles, plastic bags, bathtubs….we need all this stuff, no one needs a gun

          My answer to that is: then, go ahead and attempt to amend the constitution to remove the second amendment. Until then, my natural human right to keep and bear arms is explicitly protected by our constitution.

          And rights are not a matter of need or want. They exist inherently.

        2. avatar george from fort worth says:

          thank you for underscoring my concern.

          arguing rights against the reality of a dead 5yr old accidentally shot is useless against the emotion that says, “if nobody (except bad guys in bad neighborhoods) has a gun, this wouldn’t happen. it is this argument that lies under the push to ban guns that will lead to enough votes to over-turn personal firearms (one more lib judge on SCOTUS and the game changes quickly. my point was that the stats regarding the extremely low incidence of accidental shootings (or suicides, or whatever) means someone died/got hurt because of something completely unnecessary in a civilized society. the death/injury rate is low only in comparison to something else. the benchmark for unnecessary gun deaths/injuries is zero incidents. thus, any incident is one too many. if we save even only one life…..etc, etc, yada, yada.

          truth is, way too many people in this nation do not care about rights, only about what makes them feel comfortable in the instant. consider, 30yrs ago any US senator who proposed amending the US constitution such that government would define acceptable speech would have been shouted out of the building, and likely have faced a successful impeachment movement. but today, such a proposal has the happy support of a good number of senators and a not insignificant portion of the populace (especially those who are offended by criticism of choices).

          i think we delude ourselves that thinking, acting and depending on the self-evident truth of protected rights is and should be sufficient to batter the statists into submission. that was possible long ago. now it is all about emotion and keeping the favor of the peer group.

          cheers,

        3. avatar Misnomer says:

          Whether or not it shuts down “a” source doesn’t matter, as violent people will still get them. Do you really think that the number is people killed with guns from this source is higher than the number of lives saved by defensive gun use?

          In the end you shift things even more in favor of those willing to break the law. They can be safer in all of their nefarious endeavors without the threat of unexpected armed resistance.

    2. avatar Punknil says:

      Mom should have been armed. Still a tragedy, but one with less dead children at the end. More guns, with a population that seeks to be knowledgeable in their use, less crime. Well, less criminals with a blank check to enact their will upon the people around them for 10-20 minutes until police arrive.

  14. avatar A Hill says:

    Ugh how terrible. All I think of when antis want to make more pointless laws when something like this happens (where further gun control would have made next to no difference – he was already willing and did break many applicable laws) is the “Double secret probation” from Animal house. If something is double illegal (illegal illegal?) then what are we going to do? Send them to double jail? the extra-death-death penalty to make them twice as dead? Not even multiple life sentences can compete with double jail apparently…

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